Continuous Improvement

We always need to hone how we approach our life. Do we go to work each day and hope that everything will be exactly the same? I hope not. I hope we each have a bit of us that strives for continuous improvement. I hope we ask ourselves: How are we doing? Are we succeeding or failing? Where did you own it? Where did you lead?

Each and every day we are training for our next day, week, month, year. Our current stamina helps us to be able to go into the next day, and the one after that. We build our learning from one day, and it helps us in that next tough meeting, presentation, or dilemma we are trying to solve. I am a fan of continuous improvement. I think it is the way we learn more about ourselves. If we were not on the track to grow, learn more about ourselves, and be better, than what is ultimately the point? We should all want to be better. Better at work, better with our significant other, better with our families. We all have something to learn, and these learnings help us to grow into ourselves.

There are times when I do not want my life to change. I like where I am at and change just feels like my comfort level, and day-to-day will be grossly different. Sometimes though different might just take us to the next level and we are better for it. What we know changes. We have to get to know new people, projects, and problems to solve. Maybe the newer folks are not as fun, or the problems cause us to want to pull our hair out, but in the end if we are growing and learning it brings us to a better place. Sometimes it is just hard to see that better place. Through it all, we grow — whether by learning new skills, or more patience.

Thus continuous improvement. It brings a smile to my face that we each have an opportunity to work hard each day and be better. To learn more. To be better. Bring it. Learn more. Be a better you.

Our toys have gotten shitty

Our niece turned one year old a few weeks ago. We decided to send a few toys and one of them was reminiscent of our childhood. Do you remember the Fisher Price Little People Farm? It had a barn door, and when you opened it, it mooed like a cow. There were other farm animals, a fence, and a grain tower. There was a little window at the top of the barn that opened and you could put the little people in there so they could look at the farm where the bales of hay were stored. Ahh….memories.

So a few weeks ago we are in California at Charlie’s house, and the Little People Farm comes out, and we are flabbergasted. The thing is a cheap piece of crap. The barn doors do not open. There is no mooing noise. The little people are not little. The animals are funky looking and fat and their legs do not bend or move. The fence is chintzy. We spent over $40 on hoping to create our childhood memories for Charlie and find that she got the raw end of the deal. It was horrid.

I want to send a note to Fisher Price and ask what they were thinking. Her barn – well the top comes off. No noises come from the farm, and honestly it just looks like a barn lunch pail. Saddened that such a shitty birthday gift made it on her doorstep (compliments of Amazon), we later found a toy store and had fun seeing what fascinated her. In the end we found a cute bowling set up of animals, and had fun having her roll the ball to knock them over. What child does not love knocking over anything? I have to say, I am not biased or anything, but Charlie is damn good at kicking a ball.

After some online research, I found the original Fisher Price Little People Farm going for over $100. Seriously? Fisher Price needs to go back to its roots and produce a toy that lasts as long as the one I used to play with — I mean it lived in the nursery of my church for years and years. Bring back your vintage farm. It was worth it just to hear the moo when you opened the door.

#Childhoodnostalgia

Markings etched deep

From time to time I ponder getting a tattoo. I have an idea of what I would get, potentially around my wrist. It would be small and almost like a piece of jewelry. My problem? I cannot stand the sight of needles. They freak me out, whether if it is for a blood test, or to pen a part of me permanently. The pain does not matter so much, I have a high tolerance for that, it is the thought of the needle and the blood that comes after said needle. I get woozy, faint, and useless. Yet, somehow I still kind of want a tattoo.

So when I finished reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline I thought again about a tattoo. I was intrigued by this novel just from the title. It resonated with me. As an orphan myself, I wondered what it was about and if I would be interested. It was a quick read novel, and it easily sucked me in. A one sentence synopsis: A girl who is basically an orphan does community service (or go to juvenile corrections) with a 93-year-old woman, they bond, and learn that the woman lost her entire family when she was nine in a fire. You can imagine what happens, but it is the rich story that pulls at your heart-strings.

So what does Orphan Train have to do with tattoos? This quote shares a bit more:

“The things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin. People get tattoos to have a permanent reminder of things they love or believe or fear, but though she’ll never regret the turtle, she has no need to ink her flesh again to remember the past. She had not known the markings would be etched so deep.” page 214

There are so many things I have experienced in life that have etched deep markings on my soul, my brain, and my body. Physical events that have taken a toll on my body. Experiences that have been etched in my brain (both good, amazing, bad, and horrible). Many I would never want etched into my skin. My memories are reminders enough. Sometimes we forget how deep the pain has seeped into our skin. Other times we are reminded of the touch of another and how deep that runs in our veins. The touch that calms us, brings tears to our eyes, and who we really are is brought back to the surface. The best invisible tattoo yet.

A letter has a life of its own.

I have always been a fan of letter writing. There is something that comes out of your soul when you pen ink to paper. It is not the same when you send a text, or when you write an email. There is something private, raw, and real about a letter that shares from deep within a heart. Maybe that letter was not the first draft. Maybe it had been written over and over after many drafts, and the final version is what takes the journey from mailbox, to post office to truck, to mailbox, to the hands of the recipient — who has a moment to absorb themselves into the words shared with them over many miles. They have a choice to keep and treasure the letter or to throw it in the trash. That letter or card has a life of its own.

A life of its own. This is why I love that, in a few weeks, it will be National Letter Writing and Card Month (April). This article from Huffington Post shares about a contest from Crane called: “The Letters You Keep” — which invites people to share about the letters they have received over the years. I still have quite a few letters from my past. My mother and grandma wrote me telling me what was happening in their lives while I was away at high school. Later I received letters from my grandma while I was away at college, and while a counselor at camp. I have the 10+ page letter my father wrote to my mother telling her how she had ruined our family with the sickness that had plagued her body. You might wonder why I have kept that long letter? It is a moment of history. It tells me a bit about my father. It reminds me where I come from, and how far I have come.

What I regret is all the letters that are missing. The letters I received from Santa (penned by my father). What wisdom might they have told me about life or given me wisdom today about my father? Were there letters between my sister and me? I do not have any. Maybe we were always together? Maybe we communicated more via phone. I also regret that I no longer have the emails between Chris and I from the early stages of our dating life. No they were not handwritten, yet those were the earlier days of emails and instant messaging. We probably were excited and passionate about how quickly you could go back and forth to share our thoughts and feelings without having to wait for the mailman. We actually saved a lot of them, but they were lost on a hard drive that died when a laptop crashed to the floor. I still have that hard drive in hopes that someday we will be able to magically resurrect our early days of falling in love.

Whether or not you join Crane’s contest, I hope you will at the very least take a few moments to send a card to someone you love, someone you appreciate, or someone who has not heard from you in eons. As the Huffington Post article states:

“A handwritten envelope found amidst catalogs and credit card bills is the equivalent of a still-cold canteen in the middle of the desert. It’s refreshing and gives you reason to keep going.”

Think about who in your life needs that still-cold canteen. Reach out to them. You might just find someone to be there to quench your thirst.

Toilet Paper: the right way

Toilet Paper. Not usually something you talk about with others, and yet if it ever comes up in conversation it happens to center around whether the toilet paper roll has been put on the right way. Yet, is there a right way? Does it go over or under? There are definitely two camps: over the roll and under the roll. Actually maybe there are three camps. I fall in the third camp which equates to: “I do not care.” Chris falls in the over camp, and since I do not care, the toilet paper in our house goes over. I am used to it, but at the end of the day, I just want to use the toilet paper and go on with my day. It does not change my world one way or the other which direction it comes off the roll. All I want is a clean toilet, bathroom, and toilet paper. There is nothing worse than a gross bathroom, a filthy toilet, and no toilet paper.

Over the years I have become picky about the quality of toilet paper. At some public restrooms all you get is the thinnest of tissue paper. How can they even call it toilet paper? You need ten times the amount just to make sure it does not soak through. It should not be too thin or too harsh. It should be soft and absorbent. Think about it. They put lotion in Kleenex, which tells us that you should be soft and gentle with your nose. Why would you not treat your bum in a similar way? No one wants chafing, just like everyone hates a raw nose after a cold or the flu.

This Huffington Post article shares that a 1891 patent shows that Chris is definitely in the right camp, toilet paper goes over. Who knew!

So while I could care less about the over or under battle, I would pay more for the “Bounty” of toilet papers. It makes a difference. So — are you an over or under addict?